Clink. Clink Clink.
Stooping down in the doorway of WalMart, the Pennyman placed an obol in the mouth of the first Other and sat down to wait while the second one, James, continued to bleed. Their companions were miles away, having left them both to die after giving chase to the fleeing car. Finally the bleeding man looked at him, coherent for the last time in his life, the inhabiting soul having fled. “Why?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper.
The Pennyman looked at the dying man. “They thought it was their time again,” he said, followed by, “and they were coming with or without me. At least this way I have some power over the conflict.” James did not hear though, already having expired. The Pennyman dropped the obol in to place, closing James’ mouth. He grabbed his bag and walked out through the front doors of the establishment, walking into the Luxor on the other side.
No one was present in the lobby, but his handiwork was still evident, the crack running up the wall to where his brother had hung. He walked further in, down a few steps and passed row upon row of dead slot machines, their lights out, their noises silent. He searched for his mother but did not find her there. Next he tried upstairs, the food court was empty, as was the Titanic exhibit. The tunnel toward Mandalay Bay lay before him and he walked down it, through the mall, the Sock Exchange gated shut on his left, the sports memorabilia place smashed open, the contents all missing on his right. Down the escalator, passed the Hard Rock and by more slots, looking like row upon row of tombstones in the dark. He finally found her in the center of the building, a raised platform that used to hold a bar, the liquor long gone.
“Charon, how nice to see you again,” She smiled, waving the half naked man that stood beside her away.
Hearing his real name for the first time since returning took him back to the rivers guarding the border of the underworld. “Remember that mother. Remember that it is me who lets your followers pass into the land of the dead. It is by my will alone that they make it across the river. It would not harm me one bit if I were to let your priests and priestesses, let the ones that called out to you at night, the ones that walk this world for you right now, wander around for the rest of eternity.”
“You impertinent child!” She raised her hand to slap her son but he was already gone, feeling a tug he had not expected to feel.
The man hung before him, brown beard to his chest, arms and legs splayed out wide, chained to the wall behind him.
The Pennyman pulled two coins from his bag, placing one on the steel chair on the other side of the room before making his way to the body. A tear rolled down his cheek as he placed the obol in the man’s mouth. “This was not part of the agreement father, I’m sorry.”
Clink. Clink Clink.